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Old 06-26-2012, 09:44 PM   #1
Note to the ladies who forgot to check - we don't mind. Signed, "The guys"
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Missouri, USA
Posts: 14,076

Missouri to DW June, 2012

Still a few blanks to fill in as I put this together from memory, but wanted to get it started.

Little background, our trip consisted of me, DW, DD11, and DD6. I did Magic Kingdom in CA in 1977, and Magic Kingdom in FL in 1985. DW & I did Animal Kingdom in 1998. And that is the extent of our family’s entire Disney experience to date. So, ALL of this (aside from the travel to & from Chattanooga) was new for the kids and MOST of this was new for DW & me as well. We traveled in our 2008 GMC Acadia with 68,xxx miles & a new set of Cooper CS4 tires 

Thursday 06/14/2012
Left home ~12 miles West of Washington, MO at 7:00 a.m. Construction on I44 at Antire Hill, traffic slowed for multi-car accident, lost 10-15 minutes. Took 270 South to 255 across the JB Bridge into IL. Unplanned potty break at 8:18 in Cahokia. 2nd break at Rend Lake rest area. Note: covered picnic tables with a great view of the lake at this rest stop. No delays on 64 East, 57 South, or 24 East into Kentucky. Amazed at # of deer we see still milling about as late as 10:00 a.m., some quite close to the highway. Stopped at exit 4 (Paducah) just across the Ohio River to have lunch at Rafferty’s at 11:20; one of our favorite places to eat along this route. DD11 & DW had potato soup & ½ a sandwich each, DD6 had chicken fingers, and I had a burger. Delicious as always! Left Rafferty’s ~12:15 p.m. Stopped midway between Clarksville & Nashville to gas up. Paid $3.29, wish we’d have held out longer. Hit Nashville around 3:00 p.m., heavy traffic, but moving at or above the speed limit all the way through town. Spotted gas prices dropping as soon as we got past Nashville. $3.15, $3.08, Shot up to $3.49 at ONE stop just past MontEagle (Note, put the Acadia in 4th gear for compression braking on downhill portion of 5% grade), then dropping again & eventually hitting $2.99 ~25 miles West of Chattanooga. Best price for some time. Major traffic tie-up in Chattanooga. Lost 45-60 minutes here. Hit Atlanta ~8:00 p.m. now in Eastern Time zone. Pretty much flew straight through the city in ~18 minutes total from outer belt to outer belt. Theorize that Atlanta rush hour traffic would be much better if not for all the splits & left-lane on/off ramps. Far left lane I75 carpool, next 2 lanes I85, next 3 lanes I75 again. Wut? Thankfully, no traffic to deal with. Stop at rest area South of city to eat sandwiches packed from home, and then hit Macon around 9:45 p.m. Overnight at Econolodge at exit 3 on I475 for $39.95 (got coupon book at rest stop). AC had been shut down in the room, and it took most of the night to cool off properly  Total miles traveled day 1: 707.

Friday 06/15/2012
Fill up the tank for $3.08 next to our hotel & head out ~8:15 a.m. Breakfast at the Econolodge disappointing to say the least. Notice gas continuing to drop in price for ~30 miles down to $3.02 before it begins to rise again. Construction zone from mile 127 down to mile 102, ran 55-60 through here. Lunch at Zaxby’s. Spent ~$22 here, place was packed. Had the mild buffalo chicken nuggets; almost too mild to be honest, but good flavor. DW not a fan of the “Zaxby’s sauce”, so dipped her chicken fingers in what little ranch I had left from my meal. DD6 & DD11 loved their meals. Stopped at FL welcome center to take pictures, grab brochures, and potty break. Stop for tolls 2-3 times on FL turnpike, then hit 192 East. Fairly heavy traffic through here mid-afternoon & we sat through more than one cycle at several stoplights. Just East of Disney & I4, the traffic cleared out, and we get to our check-in on Holiday Trail at 3:45 p.m. at Tropical Palms Resort & Campground. Total travel ~375 miles on day 2. We have a 1-BR cabin with a loft area where DD6 & DD11 will sleep, full kitchen & living room, and the kids LOVED the place. Paid just under $600 total for 8 nights. Well worth the price! Spend a bit of time here unloading the car (felt like moving in), then head to Wal*Mart for essentials. $42 worth of stuff, $37.80 after coupons and we’re headed to Hungry Howie’s to pick up a pizza. OnStar takes us back on a toll road and pay $1.75. We later discover that to be the fastest route, but not necessarily the most direct. $10 for an X-large 3-topping pizza & we head back to the cabin to eat. 4 slices leftover, will be lunch another day  Spend the rest of the night at the resort pool. They had a poolside movie at 8:30, but we didn’t stay for much of it.

Saturday 06/16/2012
ANIMAL KINGDOM!! We head out early and experience pretty much zero traffic to the park. No more than 10 minutes from the time we left the cabin, we’re parked. Pick up our Y.E.S. tickets at the ticket counter. Girl at the window is very nice, but struggles to get our tickets keyed in correctly & the process takes ~10 minutes. In the end, everything is correct (no issues with the tickets all week) and the turnstiles open shortly after 8:30 with rope drop at 8:47. Grab a small locker (didn’t see if Large is available for this park) for our cooler & head straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris. Line looks bad, but it’s just wadded up at the entrance. Less than 10 minutes later, we’re on the truck. DW & I have previously ridden this ride the year this park opened, but it’s new for DD6 & DD11 and they’re having a ball. The real fun begins when we hit the savannah. DD6’s favorite animal is the giraffe. LOVES them. And wouldn’t you know it, we run into a giraffe traffic jam having to stop the truck while they mill about on the road. Perfect!! After this ride, we do the walking trails right there, then back on Kilimanjaro after another 10 minute wait. Not as good of a view of the giraffes this time, but still a great ride. Next up train ride to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Enjoyed that whole experience as well. Lunch in Harambe Village – DD6 & DD11 are asked to dance with the street performers; I missed it while retrieving drinks & chips from the locker. Purchased pulled pork sandwich (decent) and Tandoori Chicken Salad (disappointing) and split everything 4 ways. Note: the notoriously “bad” drinking water at Disney was not to be at the water fountains in AK. Not only did the water taste fine in this park, but outside the restrooms in Harambe, it was also quite cold. We made use of this fountain several times. We walked through Asia, and picked up fast passes for Kali River Rapids. DD11 & I did Dinosaur and Primevil Whirl while DW & DD6 did the little dinosaur kiddy ride (the one that’s like Dumbo). Very short lines for everything. DD6 liked most of It’s Tough to be a Bug, but did get scared during the Hopper portion. Everyone else loved it – DD11 & DW eventually went back & did it again. Watched the afternoon parade (made note of all the types of 4x4’s towing the floats LOL) & then hit Kali River Rapids with our fast passes. Was told our boat didn’t line up properly for the exit, so we all got a 2nd ride!! We were all soaked! Stand-by line indicated 50 minutes, but we didn’t see anyone IN that line LOL. We attempted to do the Nemo musical, but DD6 needed a potty break shortly after it started and we ducked out. From what we did see, I don’t think we missed anything. So, we did another Kilimanjaro Safari ride & called it a day shortly before the park closed.
Back to the cottage to eat leftovers, and then decided to go see fireworks somewhere. Settled on Epcot. Enjoyed the show 

Sunday 06/17/2012
TYPHOON LAGOON Slept in a little & hit the park around 9:15. Note: Signage for this park is not the best. Where Typhoon Lagoon is not mentioned, just follow Downtown Disney directions. First stop after the locker drop-off was shark reef. DD6 couldn’t get along with the snorkel, so she & DW took off their masks & just floated. Cold water had me breathing rapidly, but I did “okay”. DD11 was a pro right from the start & loved it. Ultimately, she’d do this attraction 4 more times throughout this day. Next up Crushin’ Gusher, the water coaster. Not much line, so we do all 3 flumes twice each. This ride a HUGE hit for the entire family. Next up wave pool & we promptly get pounded complete with scrapes & spilled blood (DD6 gets a bandaid & antiseptic from the first aid station, I pass). DD6 & DW decide to hang out in the very shallow end while DD11 & I attempt to body surf. I eventually swim ALL the way out to the rope & try it from there – it actually works better (for me) at about 5’ of depth than it does out by the rope. Waste deep proves to be the place to avoid as you get knocked around A LOT. Big waves seem cool, but the novelty wears off very fast. Paid close to $40 for a couple sandwiches & hot dogs, brought our own drinks. Food was good though. Off to Storm sliders. I found them “okay”, rest of the family really enjoys them. Family raft ride and the tube slides (forget what they’re called) are all boring as can be. Worse, the line for the raft ride was 40+ minutes. Worst ride of this type ever, a real snoozer. Did the 50’ drop slide. Good drop, but as I’d later find of all Disney drop slides, your back gets buffeted around a LOT, unlike similar slides at non-Disney waterparks. So, back to Crushin’ Gusher for several more rides before calling it a day.
Side note: We noticed some Europeans & most South Americans like to get as close to naked as possible at the water parks. And it appears that women’s bathing suits in Brazil only come in size 6 or smaller. So, in Brazil, if you’re a petite gal, your suit may be risqué, but it will fit fine. If you’re a normal sized woman (or larger), well, your bikini doesn’t get more fabric, only more string LOL.
Anyway, after Typhoon Lagoon, we changed clothes at the cabin & then I got to choose supper in honor of Father’s Day. Picked a Mexican Grill about a mile East of us on 192. GREAT food, “okay” price ($48 + tip), waitress so-so at best.

Monday 06/18/2012
MAGIC KINGDOM – Parking lot kind of confusing. We took Heroes side not knowing what that meant & then thought we were headed to Richard Petty Driving Experience at first (as did another car apparently that pulled over & just stopped). Just keep going though & you get there eventually. The tram ride to Ticket And Transportation Center was where we first learned the park would be open until midnight. Score! So, then onto the monorail & over to the gates. OMG, it’s as if all the strollers in the entire World descended down upon this one place! Two side notes on strollers here: (1) If your child is too tall to fit in the stroller without ducking his or her head for the entire ride, and their legs are so long & strong that they can put their feet down on the ground and skid the stroller to a stop while you attempt to push, it might be time to move your children out of the stroller. (2) We determined that the happiest place on Earth would probably be 100% happier if the strollers & everyone attached to them stayed home LOL. No offense, as I know a LOT of people bring stroller-age children to the park & have a GREAT time – probably most. But, I’ve also never seen so many MISERABLE children in one place at one time in all my life, many of them screaming bloody murder before the park even opened. And the traffic jams that resulted from all those unhappy people NOT staying home would have been nice to avoid. So, that’s all I’ll say on that.
We get into the park around 9:10, stash the cooler in a small locker (didn’t see if Large is available for this park), and get in line to meet Daisy. Here, we experience still more miserable children forced to pose with the big scary duck. Ughh. We skip all further character Meet & Greets in this park. Carousel & Mickey’s Philharmagic are up next after a short wait. I catch a short nap in Philharmagic. Everyone else loves it & we repeat this attraction (another nap for me!) later. It’s a Small World is next. Thankfully, the line is short & now we can say, “Been there, Done that” LOL. We do some shopping & Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor (Loved it, plus DD11 is included in the show!). We do this one again later as well and enjoy how different the show is the next time. Attempt to do Dumbo, but the line is FOREVER with only 1 of the 2 rides operating (No Fast Pass????). DD6 needs a potty break after 20 minutes in line (and 40+ minutes to go), so we bail. Goofy’s Barnstormer rollercoaster was a nice surprise & only a 15-minute wait. DW kept her eyes closed the whole time LOL.
We had a 1:20 princess lunch at the castle scheduled & DW is driving us all CRAZY as she’s scared that we’ll somehow be late (we were WAY early). So, we finally get to our time. We get our picture, head up, and check with waiter about nuts in the food (DW has allergies). Chef assures us no problem aside from the cheesecake, so DW & I both had pork 3 ways, DD11 had a Cornish hen, and I forget what DD6 had. Food was very good and the girls loved meeting the princesses. STUPID expensive, but a very nice experience & by far the highlight of the day for DD6. No regrets!
Long line for Peter Pan, but everyone seemed to like it; too long for Winnie The Pooh & the FP kiosk is all the WAY over by Philharmagic. Weird. We eventually FP that later in the night along with Splash Mountain – loved that one, but barely got a little spritz in the face. Wouldn’t have bothered stashing the camera in the locker had we known that. DW & DD11 get in line for Stitch (and eventually bail when they get up close & see what the ride really is) while DD6 & I do the teacups. Grab a couple burgers & pay for a drink since we’re so far from the locker. Not bad food & about $20. We spot the end of the 1st parade off in the distance, but are unable to get a good look. Finally get on Dumbo around 10:00 and discover it’s a GREAT place to watch the fireworks. We then get ears for DD6 and follow the mass of people to the front of the castle for Memories & the parade. Parade was kinda weird, but the girls liked it, so that’s all that matters. DD11 grabs her ears on the way out of the park, and DD6 falls asleep on the Ferry at ~11:45 on our way back to TnT.
Hard work, but in one day managed to do EVERYTHING on our list at MK  Probably will not again bother with a locker in this park if we ever go back. Came in handy for drinks & snacks once or twice, but was too inconvenient most of the time. Utilized the train as much as possible in this regard & recommend that highly. Whatever we saved in food prices, we lost in the rental fee & hassle IMO.

Tuesday 06/19/2012
BLIZZARD BEACH – after a late night the previous day, we slept in & hit the park just before 10:00. This is one of those kinds of generic waterparks that other than the theming has nothing unique. That said, ALL the rides are lots of fun. And overall we enjoyed BB more than TL. DD11 wanted to head straight to the Green Slope & Summit Plummet after getting a LARGE locker, so she & I took off while DD6 & DW splashed in the wave pool. Wait for Summit Plummet was ~15 minutes. Despite the 120’ drop, you don’t get the same sensation of height that similar rides have in other parks. Partly because the tower isn’t very high off the peak, and also because of the tunnel. It also doesn’t seem as steep of a drop either. Anyway, we both got pretty buffeted around again, as DD6 & I would later experience on Slushin’ Gusher, also on the Green Slope. No idea why these slides aren’t as smooth as those in other parks. Could be too much water. Still a couple pretty decent thrill rides though. Whole family then headed to the final Green Slope ride, Teamboat Springs, which we pretty much walked right on. This is a MUCH better family raft ride than the one at Typhoon Lagoon with a couple decent drops (but nothing too scary) and it’s a long ride to boot. We did this ride repeatedly, never waiting at all, although at one point the line suddenly backed WAY up. Turns out, the ride was down for some reason. Once it came back up, the line cleared right out again. On the back side of the Green Slope is the lone Red Slope ride, Runoff Rapids. The walk up the stairs to get on this ride is a killer. We had to laugh at the warning at the top about people with heart conditions. Trust me, if your heart isn’t in good enough shape for this ride, it darn sure isn’t in good enough shape for the stairs!! That said, the open slides for double tubes were great, and the enclosed slide for single tubes was even better. So, we burned lots of calories on this attraction hoofing it up those stairs. Never much of a line, either. On the purple slope is Downhill Double Dipper and 2 mat rides. As a bonus, there is a conveyor hauling tubes & mats to the top for you on these. DDD is a very fast, 6 second ride on a tube following a 30-40 minute wait. Worth the wait once a day, but wouldn’t spend all day in that line to ride it a 2nd time. We all enjoyed the Toboggan ride (mat racers), but DW & I didn’t care for the old-school mat slides that zigzagged down the hill. Kind of hard on our 40+ year old backs LOL. Really enjoyed this park, but there is a LOT of walking required with many rides spitting you out nowhere near the entrance to anything else, nor even the entrance to the ride you just finished.

Wednesday 06/20/2012
EPCOT – DD11 and DW had a Y.E.S. class at 8:30, so we took off extra early just to be on the safe side. Arrived at the park at 7:55 and parked in the very first row. Rather than sit around, DD6 & I rode the monorail to MK & back just for the heck of it. Once the park opened, we grabbed a LARGE locker & headed straight to World Showcase only to discover nothing there happens before 11:00 a.m. So, we went back toward the entrance & filled up her autograph at the Character spot – 20 minute line to see Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. Best “free” character meet in any of the parks BY FAR. We then waited 40 minutes to ride Soarin’ (both of us loved it) and walked on Living With The Land. LWTL was a terrific surprise as we weren’t expecting much and I was stunned at how much knowledge DD6 retained from just our first ride (we’d end up on this at least 4 more times during our stay). DD11’s Y.E.S. class ended and we all met back up to do LWTL together and then split again so she could do the Meet & Greet while DD6 & I went through the Brave displays. We met back up to see Chip N Dale, then grabbed lunch (2 Subway footlongs, drinks, & chips) from the locker, then sat down inside The Land and ate. Felt a little weird carrying our own lunch in there, but we were complimented by one CM and envied by several guests. Nice lady gave us her (sealed) cookies from her CS meal that she couldn’t finish. Grabbed Soarin’ Fast Passes next & headed to World Showcase. No go, rain  So, back to The Seas & indoor attractions. Enjoyed the Nemo ride, dolphin show, SCUBA demonstration, and wandering around the aquariums. Tried to brave the rain & DD6 slipped and hurt her knee. Grabbed ponchos out of the locker and again braved the rain. Halfway to World Showcase, it dawned on me that with our prime parking spot, we should have gone out & gotten our large golf umbrellas from the car, but by now we were almost to Canada. Enjoyed the Canada film and wandering around WS – the food in Morocco smelled wonderful and the menus made our mouths water!!! Eventually, it was time to head back to Soarin’. Waited ~10 minutes with our Fast Passes, then got on. Here, it falls apart. DW realized we were in the highest row and FREAKED OUT just before the ride started, then screamed for most of the first half of it. We all felt terrible for her. She eventually settled down & even was able to open her eyes and enjoy the very end of the ride. Said she might be able to handle it better if we ever try again. One more trip on LWTL, then off to Mexico to ride 3 Caballeros which we all enjoyed. Fireworks were just beginning & the rain was starting to kick back in, so we headed to the car.

Thursday 06/21/2012
DISNEY HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS – Originally, this was to be a waterpark day, but the weather looked nastier for Friday, so we bumped this up in the schedule. We arrived shortly after rope drop and walked right in. Lockers are dispensed at the souvenir stand (no signs to indicate this), so there was some confusion there. On the plus side, Large lockers are available here, as is the case with Epcot & the waterparks. For us, well worth the extra $2. This park was a mixed bag for us. Some things we really enjoyed, a lot of downtime between attractions, and some things we really disliked. The parking lot for starters is a mess. The tram stop helpers made NO effort to organize the guests and nobody was standing even remotely in the right spot once the tram stopped. The shows are all long, don’t play continuously like in other parks, & overlap a lot, so there are lots of gaps in the day. And trying to time FP’s for rides in between is a challenge. Half the park doesn’t even open until 11, so you’re sort of stuck. Started with the Muppet show, very short wait & a good show that spit us out into the Phineas & Ferb autograph signing & near the front of the line for that. Then let the kids play in the Honey I Shrunk The Kids playground for a bit. DD6 & especially DD11 were disappointed in this spot – thought it’d be “cooler”. Wandered around a bit then hit Lights, Motors, Action. Someone handed us paper Fast Passes, so we zipped right in, although all the standby guests also got a seat. We picked a spot in the shade & really enjoyed the show. Next, we went to _________________ and then Indiana Jones. DD6 got scared because of the “spooky” music, so DW took her out while DD11 & I watched the rest. Show was cut short by rain, but pretty good overall. We then stopped off in the café right outside the exit for lunch (I dashed back to the locker for drinks while everyone else stayed dry). Best burger deal in any park here – slightly cheaper & better toppings than elsewhere. Stand-by line for the Toy Story ride was 2 hours and American Idol was between shows, so we got Fast Passes for Toy Story (return 7:40 to 8:40 p.m.) and bailed on DHS for a while.
We headed back to Epcot at this point & checked out more of World Showcase, enjoyed the Chinese film, then were first in line to meet Mulan. Tried to get in line for our final princess (Jasmine) only to find out she was leaving for a while & the line was closed. Did get Mary Poppins on the way into England – again almost first in line. Knew we’d never make it back to DHS in time for the 6:00 American Idol if we didn’t go ahead & leave, so we didn’t wait for Jasmine to come back out for her 5:35 signing. Hit LWTL again and left the park. Waited a long time for the tram, then sat on the tram FOREVER before it left. Probably wasted 20 minutes here & should have just walked to the car despite the poor parking position. Note: We discovered there was only ONE tram running this time of day & rather than just keeping it moving, they took a LONG time at EVERY stop. Skip the tram mid-day unless you can hit final boarding call.
Result, back to DHS at 6:00 and no way to make 6:00 AI, so we milled about until 6:30 and lined up for the 7:00 show. AI was better than I thought it’d be & they did a nice job getting everyone pumped up for the show. Once over, we used our Fast Passes on Toy Story, but still waited ~15 minutes to get on. We all enjoyed this ride/game a lot, but all our arms were sore afterwards! We then headed over to Fantasmic and grabbed a seat. They did a nice job with music & games to keep the crowd entertained until the show. The show itself however was a disaster. The story line is just a mess of random images & there’s a 10-minute section that is just full-on creepy. DD6 hid her face, covered her ears, and begged us to leave. If we thought we could have done so safely, we would have. The effects were pretty good, but for the most part, we hated this show. Aside from the handful of really slow rides at Typhoon Lagoon, this was the only Disney attraction I can honestly say none of us will ever do again for any reason whatsoever. At its conclusion, we did our best not to be trampled by the wall of people leaving the stadium and headed for the locker. Here, we ran into the only line to return a locker key of our trip. They had ONE CM working the souvenir stand and she was selling trinkets AND accepting returned keys. 15 minutes wasted here. Knowing we’d wait forever for the tram given the line there, we tried to walk straight to our car only to find we had to cross several lanes of bus traffic in the process. It felt like a live-action “Frogger” game and was quite scary at times. This was the only Disney park with such a poor parking arrangement, and the only one where we encountered slow traffic leaving the park. Overall, we’re glad we tried DHS as we did enjoy some things there and at least we can say we’ve been and know what’s there. But, there is at most half a day of stuff for our family to do there & nothing that would warrant a return trip. With the same amount of park time (4 days) in the future, we would probably skip DHS, do one full day each in AK, MK, and Epcot, then split the 4th day somehow, probably park at MK and use the monorail at some point to hop to Epcot & then back.

Friday 06/22/2012 – Final day in The World
BLIZZARD BEACH/TYPHOON LAGOON – Slept in again & got to BB around 9:45. Rain would threaten pretty much all day, though we did get a handful of hot, sunny times. Grabbed a large locker & headed to Teamboat Springs. Road this several times over the course of the day and once again it shut down at some point. We overheard the workers explaining to each other that apparently it was not a malfunction, but an attempt to send a wheelchair bound guest on the ride that caused a major delay. DD6 & I did Slushin’ Gusher again, we played in the wave pool, lots of trips down Runoff Rapids, 1 Toboggan ride, and 1 round on Downhill Double Dippers (again with a long wait). We had chips & drinks, but no real meal here. Around 3:00, we planned 1 final ride on Teamboat Springs before leaving, but were driven off by nasty storm clouds.
Back to the cabin for lunch & to wait out the storm. Having 1 WPFM visit left on our tickets, we arrived back at Typhoon Lagoon shortly before 6:00 p.m. in light rain. Both girls made one more trip through Shark Reef, and we did all 3 Storm Slider slides. The rest of the time was spent on Crushin’ Gusher. With the weather, the line was so light we weren’t required to even turn in our tubes. Instead, we just went on it continuously losing count of the # of rides we took. At 7:45, the storms were coming back around & announcements of the pending park closure were heard, so we called it a day. Turned right instead of left so we could take a quick look at Downtown Disney. No desire to get out of the car with the rain picking up, so we ducked into the on-site Hess station & filled up for $3.11 & grabbed a quart of chocolate milk for breakfast. We fixed supper at the cabin & thankfully had no leftovers 

Saturday 06/23/2012
Due to Friday night’s rain, we spent much of Saturday morning packing the car after breakfast. Finally rolled out around 7:45 a.m. Eastern Time. For whatever reason, OnStar shot us up I4 to the Turnpike rather than back across 192. I had wondered about that route anyway, so I followed. Gave us a chance to see Orlando & I think the time was about the same overall. With no delays, we made good time stopping for gas around mile 147 in Georgia (somewhere South of Macon) on I75 and paid $2.99. This was the cheapest we’d seen so far this day, though we’d see that price on & off through mid Georgia and again leading up to Chattanooga. Lunch at Zaxby’s again, and then we tried to get into the Atlanta Aquarium around 3:15 or so. Figured it would be crowded, but with the place closing at 6:00, we did not anticipate seeing a line of 500+ people trying to get in. Forget it. Cancelled our hotel in Chattanooga and hit the gas zipping right through Chattanooga this time as we crossed into Central Time Zone. Supper near Opryland at Logan’s Steak House (DW & I split an 8 ounce steak, salad, and loaded baked potato, DD11 had sliders, DD6 had steak tips off the child’s menu). Good food & we enjoyed throwing the peanut shells on the ground LOL. Pressed on after supper & had a mild delay for construction just outside Nashville on I24. Started seeing lots of deer as darkness crept in, so grabbed a room in Clarksville, TN around 9:00. Super 8 was full, so got an NRA discount at the Days Inn for $65 with tax (found a coupon for a better price after I’d already paid – good news, it was still cheaper than the room we cancelled in Chattanooga LOL). Total miles traveled ~755 this day.

Sunday 06/23/2012
Free breakfast at the hotel & not too bad this time. Filled up next door for $3.11 while the girls finished eating. On the road by 7:45 Central Time. Spotted a doe feeding in the ditch off I24 around 8:00. DW missed the turnoff for the rest area in Paducah, so I suggested we just hit the one in Metropolis, IL instead. Rest area CLOSED  No worries, we hit the bathrooms at the BP station paused to take pictures of ourselves as Superman & Wonderwoman, and hit the road again. No delays on 24 or 57 in IL, so after a potty break at the Rend Lake McDonalds, we headed toward Mt. Vernon. DW spotted the following sign: “El Rancherito Sunday Buffet”. Bingo!! Took exit 95; the restaurant is 3-4 blocks North of I64 on the right. Pulled into the parking lot at 11:04 and the lights were off but a couple cars were in the parking lot. Doors opened as we walked up to the building, so we grabbed a seat. $33.94 for all 4 of us for a VERY extensive (and delicious) buffet. Highly, highly recommend this place!!! I do assume the buffet is Sundays only though. Men’s room was seating for 1 however, & I was unable to get in before we left, so we hit the I64 rest area just shy of Scott AFB and pointed the car toward Missouri! I255 across the JB Bridge to 270 North, to I44 West toward home. Gas was $3.08 in Fenton & $3.04 at exit 251 in Villa Ridge – our exit – but still $3.19 in Washington. Still had 1/3 of a tank, so DW waited until gas in Washington dropped to $3.09 on Monday to fill up (after getting the dog from the kennel). Arrived home at ~2:15 p.m., flipped NASCAR race on, hit “pause” and started unloading the car. Total miles travelled on Sunday ~330. Total for trip: 2,353 

Favorite Parks:
1. Animal Kingdom
2. tie Blizzard Beach & Epcot
4. tie Magic Kingdom & Typhoon Lagoon
6. Disney Hollywood Studios

Favorite Rides/attractions:
1. Kilimanjaro Safaris
2. Crushin’ Gusher
3. Shark Reef
4. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
5. Teamboat Springs

Best surprises:
1. Living With The Land
2. Goofy’s Barnstormer Rollercoaster
3. Fireworks view from atop Dumbo

Best “Disney” Moment:
Princess Lunch in the castle

Fuel Mileage for trip: 21.6

Last edited by Gumbo4x4; 01-06-2014 at 11:52 AM.
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